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Thousands of families are getting a £50 boost from the council to help them buy food.

Up to 8,000 children who qualify for free school meals will benefit. Their families will be getting £50 supermarket vouchers, designed to help them over the Easter holidays.

Families are notified about the scheme by their school, and sent the vouchers by email. Schools know who qualifies for a voucher by looking at free school meal records, so families don’t need to apply.

However, if a family qualifies for free school meals, and hasn’t been contacted about vouchers by 22 March, they should get in touch with their school immediately.

The £50 voucher scheme is the latest one run by the council during the pandemic, using various government funds.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: “The value of these vouchers – £25 per week instead of £15 – is higher than in previous schemes. This is because we know many families are facing higher bills from rising energy and food prices. On top of that, school holidays always mean extra costs.

“The vouchers will give many families in the city a bit of much-needed help at a time when budgets are getting very tight.”

The £50 Easter holiday vouchers are paid for by the government’s household support fund, given to councils following the reduction in universal credit last year. This funding ends on 31 March. As the council can’t provide vouchers without government funding, this is likely to be the last such scheme.

However, the council is providing other help to local families.

During the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays, its HAF Fun Pompey scheme provides five to 16 year-olds with free activities along with good, tasty food.

Families with children eligible for free school meals can book places for free. There are also some free spaces for other children. Parents and carers can find more details and book.

Families who are worried about the cost of meals during school holidays can find information on foodbanks and community food schemes.

Anyone worried about money can get free, impartial advice on how to:

  • make sure they’re receiving everything they’re entitled to
  • find ways to save money
  • deal with problem debt

This is available on the council’s money advice page.

Residents can also find out how to save energy, save money and save carbon with Switched On Portsmouth.